Friday, March 23, 2012

Lalique Flynn Ch. 8 Protesting Too Much Part 2

When Lalique came out on the porch, Perry was standing looking out to the water, his hands in his back pockets. He turned and smiled at her. Lalique was careful not to sit on the bench but installed herself in a chair and Perry sat in the adjacent one.

"You're right, the view is spectacular. Probably even better during the day," his eyes softened as they looked into hers.

It's like I can't catch my breath when he looks at me directly. What is wrong with me?

For his part, Perry was trying not to stare at her legs so he looked back out at the bay and searched his mind for a subject that might not cause problems. Conversation with Lalique at this point seemed like crossing a minefield. He knew he tended to needle her, but still she was definitely touchy. Definitely touchy and definitely gorgeous, exciting, intelligent and, and cranky in an endearing way. The lady was a lethal package. He couldn't remember when he had been this fascinated by a woman.

"You said you used to live in Pleasantview," he began, "I know quite a few people there, I wonder if we know anyone in common."

"Oh? Who do you know?"

He thought about it a second,

"Let's see. Well, Dr. Jody Broke, at the hospital; he's an acquaintance of mine. Then Bob Blackford, Devon and Royal Brecht, Jr., and David Lassiter. I've actually handled a few things for David's father, John, in fact. You probably know him, nearly everyone does. Oh, and Brian Ottomas, the owner of Club Dante, he's a good friend."

Lalique swallowed so hard that her throat clicked audibly.

Oh, fantastic, they're almost all my old boyfriends except for David Lassiter and Royal, Jr.. Did he read my diary or something?

"Uh, yes, I know a couple of them," she paused, "Look, maybe I should just get this out in the open right now and make things clear. My life is very complicated and I should be honest; I've actually dated some of the people you just mentioned. But now there's no room in my little world for romance, not anymore."

"It's no big deal if you went with any of them; it's a very small town. As for romance, I don't believe I asked you to elope, exactly. When it comes to dating in general, I know your kids are very small, but when they're a little older I'm sure--"

"No. I'm through with all that. Frankly, it never works out for me and I've decided to concentrate on others things," she hoped she sounded decisive and intelligent, but she had a feeling it was more like rigid and short-sighted.

"Sounds like you've been hurt."

"Not in the least," she lied firmly, "But...unfortunately things just don't go well for me in that department. So I don't care to have a love life anymore."

"I see. Your children..." he left it open. Obviously with four children one would assume she'd had a love life at some point.

"Alain and Desiree don't come from a romantic liaison, I used artificial insemination," she informed him, waiting for a negative reaction and wondering what in the world had prompted her to bare her soul to him.

"Well, they're really beautiful. I take it you wanted to remain independent and that was your choice?"

"Yes," she said primly, hoping strongly he would not ask if Brett and Noelle were conceived the same way. 

He simply does not bring out the best in me; everything I say comes out wrong. And worse, I keep finding myself revealing things I had no intention of telling him.

"It's just that...and I don't mean to be insulting or forward at all...but, well, it's hard to imagine you would need to do that. What's wrong with the guys around here, anyway?"

"Nothing is wrong with them--I guess. I didn't say I needed to do it; it was my choice; I wanted children and I wanted them to be mine alone."

"As I said, Adrien and Desiree are wonderful kids. And I'm sure the littler ones are just as special."

She supposed this was in reference to her reluctance at having him interact with the babies.

"But you're far too young to just write off personal relationships," he went on.

"That's your opinion."

He nodded,

"That's right, it's my opinion, but I think it's a pretty rational one. Even if you don't want to marry or cohabitate, pushing men away will not only be a full time job in your case, but a lonely one. Don't you think you deserve better than that? You seem like you have a lot to offer, at least once anyone can get past the prickly front you put up."

Lalique shot to her feet and Perry quickly stood up as she did, a slight smile on his face.

"I am not prickly! Anyway, whatever you think, it's my life and frankly none of your business."

"You are the one who brought it up. Are you seriously telling me you will never date again? Never be involved with any man for the rest of your life?"

When he put it that way it sounded very bleak indeed.

"I don't want any love entanglements," she said stiffly, "I can't imagine when I would change my mind, if ever. Personal relationships are...messy."

"Life is messy, Lalique. But as you say it is your life. I just think it's a terrible waste in every way. I guess that would explain your irritability, though."

"" Lalique sputtered helplessly. Really, he was the most annoying, disturbing man, she couldn't even think of anything bad enough to call him and then suddenly his arms went around her as he pulled her to him roughly and kissed her. Not a gentle kiss at all, but one that asked no permission and pulled no punches.

She couldn't think; she felt lightheaded. Couldn't do anything but hang on. His mouth on hers felt so right; like it was a perfect fit. She almost threw her arms around him, so much did she want the kiss to go on and on. When she realized that it enraged her further. She pulled back and pushed him away at the same time.

"Stop it! What is wrong with you?"

"Sorry, I didn't mean to throw you," he told her, "But you must be aware that you look positively magnificent when you get mad. That's fortunate, I suppose, since you seem to be somewhat of a crosspatch."

"What are you saying?!" she nearly screamed at him, "Who asked you anyway? And I am not a crosspatch. I am just...opinionated."

"Definitely; opinionated and quick tempered. As I was saying, I didn't mean to throw you, but I don't really see why you're surprised; we've pretty much been leading up to this since we met. I knew from the moment I set eyes on you what I wanted. And you reared back on your hind legs the minute I came in. You knew it, too."

"Well, of all the conceited--I did nothing of the kind," she hissed, "Just because I didn't fall down and become a red carpet when you walked into Eden House doesn't mean--"

"You can put on this act, and we can keep circling each other, but it seems like a waste of time; we both know we're jonesing for each other," he insisted, his brows coming together over his nose, even as his mouth quirked on one side with humor.

"I am not "jonesing" for anyone," she declared.

Which was a lie, of course. She'd been longing for John for months. Even though she'd put an end to their affair, she'd been looking forward to suffering silently while dreaming about him the rest of her life.

In fact, remembering that, she wondered how she could put it aside so quickly and be attracted to Perry. He had become a baffling and humiliating problem to her in every way.

She paused a moment, trying to rally her pitiful defenses and her voice was suddenly that of a patient, but very weary, kindergarten teacher.

"Listen to me, Perry," she said slowly, "And try to understand. For an intelligent man it seems to me that you are comprehension impaired. I told you; I don't want to be attracted to anyone, do you get that? My children take all my time and energy. They are all I care about. If you think I'm looking for love or even just a fling, you have read me wrong. I am flung out."

"Okay, maybe you're not looking for it. But sometimes things come along that don't happen to be on the have to be a little flexible, a little open to them or you'll miss a lot of good experiences in life."

"Is that so? Well, not only are you a gourmet chef, a dedicated gamer, stellar sportsman and hotshot lawyer, but you now have mad skills in philosophy. It must be wonderful to be perfect and know everything. And so, according to you, kissing Perry Everhart is one of the good things in life?"

"Well, that's not exactly what I meant, but I haven't had any complaints, either."

She hated that a smile was playing around his lips by now.

"Stop smirking, this is not funny."

"Yes, I'm afraid that it is. You're yelling at me but you're really mad at yourself.  Once you calm down and honestly consider what I've said you'll see I'm right. I'll tell you what; how about I take you out next Friday--do you roller skate? I could pick you up and we could swing by the rink then have dinner somewhere after that."

She wanted to respond to his insistence that he was "right" with a scathingly snotty comment, but she was so bewildered by his rapid change of subject that she found herself actually contemplating his second question about skating.

"What? Well, I haven't skated since i was a child, but I suppose I remember enough to keep from--wait. Oh, no you don't. And let me guess; you probably were an Olympic roller skating hopeful back in 2002, right?"

He let the hyperbole roll right over him,

"No, I did take lessons for a couple years and won a competition when I was 10, but never did anything beyond that."

"I thought I was being sarcastic."

"So, is that a yes?"

"Oh!" Lalique stamped her foot in impotent wrath; he was simply impervious to insults, "You are the most--okay, that's it. It's time for everyone to go home; I have toddlers who are overdue for their snack and then bed and two babies to feed. Arlene! Arlene!"

Perry lingered on the porch steps as Arlene hurried out and Ray followed her looking quizzically at Perry.

"It's been fun, but all good things must end," Lalique announced to one and all.

Arlene grabbed Ray for one last kiss and then he headed to his junk heap of a car.

"Thanks for having us, Lalique, great meal!" he waved at Arlene and told her, "I'll call you tomorrow, angel."

Perry turned to Lalique,

"He's right, of course; the food was amazing and the company even better and I thank you for the invitation. I'll give you a couple days before I call, by then you should be over this little sulk."

Lalique froze; did he never tire of insulting her?

"Excuse me, but I do not sulk. As for calling me; don't bother, Mr. Everhart," she retreated to glacial condescension, "It has just become my fondest wish never to see you again."

He was getting into his own car and looked up at her with a lazy grin,

"Ah, but you will, beautiful, you will."

"Oh, stuff it!" Lalique finally snapped.

Perry only chuckled as he started his vehicle.

"Why, Lalique!" Arlene exclaimed, startled by her rudeness to a guest.

"Please take Alain and Desiree upstairs, give them their juice and put them to bed," she looked at Arlene who wisely shut her mouth and headed for the living room to get the children.

Lalique narrowed her eyes as she watched his tail lights disappear down the road. Impossible, the man was absolutely impossible. Of course, it was too bad that he was so alarmingly good-looking; that head of wavy auburn hair that curled over his collar, the compelling green eyes that looked at her as if he was stripping away all pretense right down to her soul, broad at the shoulder and narrow at the hip he had long, muscular legs and...stop it. Just stop it. Well, she shrugged, so what if she found him singularly fascinating? That was merely a chemical reaction, simply a physical attraction. And everyone knew what could come from those. She was dismayed to realize she could still remember his mouth on hers and she rubbed her lips angrily with the back of her hand.

Locking the doors, and turning out the porch lights she headed up the stairs to her sweet babies.

So he was going to call her? Fine, let him try. She had no intention of answering any calls from Mr. Perfect Perry Everhart. That was absolutely and irrevocably final. Period. End of story.

To be continued...

Lalique Flynn Ch. 8 Protesting Too Much Part 1

It often took both Arlene and Lalique all day long to keep things running smoothly at the house now. Four children under the age of four meant hectic days and sometimes sleepless nights.

But in spite of the chaos, Lalique wanted to keep her promise to Ray Nolan. Since she'd found him so easy to like and when she'd heard what Perry had to say about him she felt confident in having him to the house.

She'd originally planned to invite him for dinner but Arlene asked for a daytime cookout, saying it would be more relaxed.

"I was wondering," she hedged, "Couldn't we invite his friend over, too? I mean, Perry."

"Whatever for?"

"Well, he lives alone he might enjoy a home cooked meal."

Lalique looked at her skeptically,

"Since supposedly he could compete on Iron Chef America, why would you think that?"

"Please, Lalique? Ray would have another guy to talk to and I think he'd feel more comfortable."

"Oh, okay," she gave in with a sigh and then griped, "I hope 'Emeril' won't consider himself above chicken and corn on the cob."

The meal actually went well. The conversation was light and amusing and the grilled chicken and fixings were succulent and delicious. Lalique was gratified to see Perry wolfing down his fair share. She didn't realize it but she was spending more time observing him than Ray. But then, she no longer had many questions about Ray. He appeared to be just what he said he was.

After clearing the food away Lalique headed upstairs to check on Alain and Desiree. Arlene and the men were still talking but she knew that Arlene would take the dishes in for her shortly. Both of the twins were waking from their naps. They would need to potty and be changed out of their pajamas and then they'd be ready to play. She was dressing Alain while Desiree fussed and decided this would go faster with Arlene to help. She carried the half-dressed boy with her as she opened the window that looked out on the backyard.

"Arlene! I need your help, can you come up here a minute?"

There was no answer so she carried him back to the changing table; he still needed his shoes and meanwhile Desiree had progressed from fussing to whining. Then Lalique thought she heard Arlene on the stairs.

"Oh, thank goodness," she said over her shoulder, "Desiree is ready to shriek like a Banshee and I'm still buckling Alain's sandals."

She turned to find Perry standing in the doorway.

"I'm sorry if I'm intruding but I heard you calling Arlene and I couldn't find her or Ray. They seem to have vanished but I have a feeling they went looking for privacy and are out of earshot. Don't know if they're in a closet or the garage. Best not to think of it. Can I help? I'm actually pretty good with kids."

"Oh. Well, no I just--" she stopped, still holding Alain, who now sported sandals and was squirming like crazy to get down.

Desiree chose that moment to go from whining to outraged screeching. She wanted

"What is it time for? Food?" Perry asked, taking Alain from her. Her children were not the shy kind and went easily to anyone at the house, but even so he seemed to have a deft touch with Alain. Like it wasn't his first time or something.

"No, it's not time for his meal yet; I'm afraid what he wants right now is attention," she plucked Desiree out of her crib and she stopped screaming like magic as soon as her mother had her in arms.

"Attention? I can do that," Perry assured her as he set Alain down and dropped down Indian style across from him. 

Immediately the little boy held up his hands to Perry,


"Gotcha, slick," he nodded at the child then asked Lalique, "I'm sorry, what did you say his name was?"

"Alain. And her name is Desiree."

It took her only moments to get Desiree into her sun suit. Meanwhile Perry was delighting Alain with exaggerated Peek-a-boo movements and expressions.
Desiree responded with gleeful shrieks and laughter as Lalique tossed her in the air. But she had her eye on Perry and Adrien. The minute Lalique set her down she toddled her way over to Perry and made her request.

"Peek-a-boo me."

"You, too? Okay, I guess we can take turns," Perry smiled and chucked her under the chin which caused her to giggle. Lalique guided Alain over to his current favorite toy, the xylophone.

"He's musical, too, huh?"

"Yes, they both are. Really, I'm serious. I can tell already. I'll probably start giving them dance lessons myself soon since there's a studio downstairs. They're young, so it would only be a few little moves just for fun. I don't want to pressure them."

"Never to early to learn an appreciation for music," Perry asserted, "You'll be doing them a great favor, really."

"I hope so."

"Well, shall we let them join the party?" he suggested.

They carried the twins down to the living room where, surprise, Arlene and Ray were sitting on the love seat. Since that was right next to the stained glass door leading to the pool Lalique had the feeling they'd been sitting out there on one of the couches when Perry couldn't find them. The little sneaks.

"You said you have two more?" Perry asked putting Desiree down so she could head over to the play station where Alain was already busy with blocks.

"Two more? Oh, you mean kids. Yes, I have two little babies, Brett and Noelle."

"So when do I get to make their acquaintance?"

She thought briefly that it was kind of amazing that after messing with toddlers for some thirty minutes this single man was willing to fool with infants as well.

"Um, they're asleep," Lalique almost stuttered, "I don't like to upset their schedule."

That would be all she'd need; Perry cruising through her bedroom to go see the babies sleeping. She didn't want to picture Perry in her bedroom, and she didn't want him to picture sir.

"Oh, well, I'm sure you have photos, I'd really like to see them sometime."

Sometime? What time? This was supposed to be a one-day only thing. 

She went over to get the scrapbook she was starting for Brett and Noelle and brought it back to him where he sat on the sofa.

"Hey, they're pretty cute," he nodded, taking care with the book, "Black, black eyebrows like yours, brown eyes on this one, but blue eyes on the other."

"Yep," she shrugged and looked away, "Well, Desiree had brown eyes like mine, but Alain has light green eyes. Just the way it goes. After all they're fraternal twins, not identical. I think the babies will have black hair like me and like Alain and Desiree." And like John.

"They're still really little or are these old photos? They must only be a couple of months old in this shot."

"They are little. That's why they call them babies."

Really she did not want to discuss Brett and Noelle with him further. She practically snatched the scrapbook out of his hands and placed it into its proper location in the bookcase.

"Do you play much?" Perry asked indicating the video game player.

"Not lately, but I used to; do you want to play a game then?" she said, relieved to change the subject.

"Sure. I should warn you I play kind of cutthroat, though."

"Oh, I won't mind, but I'm bound to be rusty. Not much time for games since I had Alain and Desiree."

But Lalique couldn't catch a break when it came to SSX3 this time. She was usually a better player than this. She lost every game. And never before had it made her so angry. She didn't say much, but she was in a snit and it was showing in her every gesture.

"You aren't a very good sport, are you?" he remarked mildly.

"I am so a good sport! I lose all the time to people and I'm always polite."

That sounded incredibly stupid but it was too late and Perry was chuckling,

"I'll bet. But if you lose all that often I can see how it might get on your nerves after a while."

"You are the only thing getting on my nerves, and I'll bet I could start a club with the people who feel the same way," Lalique said indignantly, "The Perry Is a Righteous Pain Club or maybe Conceited Fools Anonymous."

"Yeah, I have been accused of being irritating," he conceded with evident humor, 
"But that's just in the beginning of a relationship. Later, they find me much more likeable."

"Mr. Everhart," she said with admirable frostiness, "I must point out that this is not a relationship and never will be. You are simply a guest at my house for the day."

"Well, if so it's been a great day in my book, I have to admit that," he smiled a smile that was not tempered by sarcasm or cynicism and it almost took Lalique's breath away. How could he be so aggravating and then be so nice? And how could he fail to recognize her scorn and rejection? His gracious reply had knocked the wind right out of her sails.

"Um. Well."

Um? Well? Brilliant, Lalique.

"Maybe you'd like to go out on the front porch? It's cooling off a bit and the view is quite nice," she asked more to change the subject than anything, "I just have to run and check on the babies a moment."

She hurried upstairs without waiting for an answer but did look over her shoulder at Arlene and Ray who were cuddling on the love seat still. Alain and Desiree were playing right in sight. Things were ship shape there. All she had to do was calm down and stop being such a fool. Immediately. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lalique Flynn Ch. 7 A Real Talented Guy

When Lalique and Arlene arrived at the Eden House Restaurant and Ray Nolan met them there Lalique liked him right away. His clothes were clean and neatly pressed (he'd left the leather vests and torn Levis at home), his hair was clean and shiny, too, and he looked directly into her eyes. This was the acid test of a man according to her mother, Olivia.

"If he can't look you in the eyes, he can't be trusted," she always said.

Of course, Lalique had to admit there had been one or two men in her experience who could easily meet her eyes and yet manage to lie like a rug. However; it was still a good rule of thumb, along with Olivia's proviso that any man should should have a firm handshake. In fact, she maintained, any woman should be likewise and not offer a limp hand as if the man should kiss it. Not that there was anything wrong with hand kissing; Lalique's father excelled in the art.

They had finished their dinner and were just relaxing when Ray got a call, he apologized as he answered. After a few moments he hit "end" and turned to them,

"I'm sorry for interrupting. That was an old friend of mine who's in Crystal Creek for a few hours and looking for me. He needs to drop something off and I told him it would be okay to come by here to do that."

"Oh, is it Perry?" Arlene asked with enthusiasm.

"Yes, it's Perry. I hope you don't mind, Lalique."

"That's fine, no problem, Ray."

"I've met Perry, but just once," Arlene told her, "He's a lawyer."

"Really?" Lalique was somewhat surprised. Ray seemed to be a great guy but it was hard to imagine that he numbered attorneys among his friends. Maybe the man ran a storefront law office. Well, that's what she got for judging things by their appearance.

"Yeah, he's pretty well known in this area, actually. He's in family law now but he used to be in criminal law. Got burned out. Anyway, he's a good friend I've known for years even though he's older than me by about seven years. His last name is Everhart...Perry Everhart."

Lalique was impressed,

"Yes, I have heard of him, by reputation only, I've never met him."

"He's a real talented guy," Arlene said and urged, "Tell her, Ray. You know, what you told me."

"Well, Arlene is right...I brag on him a lot, but I do look up to him. He can do just about anything; he's a gourmet cook, for one. He's also an ace mechanic. Sometimes he helps me with car restorations. Just in his spare time, of course."

"Remarkable," Lalique said quietly. Perry Everhart was beginning to sound like an executive she'd once dated who'd been accomplished at many things, but turned out to be a consummate heel as well as morally bankrupt.

"He plays guitar some times," Rad added, "I'm talking classical guitar."

"You play, too, Ray--and you're good!" Arlene insisted.

"Yeah, well, it's not the same as the way Perry plays, believe me," Ray grinned at Lalique, "She's prejudiced, that's why I'm crazy about her."

Lalique smiled,

"That's something I've noticed; you both seem to have a mutual admiration society going."

He winked at Arlene and said,

"I just have to convince her it will take some time before I can be the man I'd like to be for her. It took a while for me to convince myself that I should even hope she will wait."

Arlene was already holding his arm and she leaned in to kiss his cheek,

"I think you're fabulous now, but if you want me to wait, I'll wait."

So, this guy is a gourmet cook, a mechanic, a musician and a lawyer?" Lalique asked slyly, "Anything else?"

"No that's...oh, yeah; he's quite an athlete, just good at any sport really."

Of course he is.

"He sounds too good to be true," she said to Ray.

“It might seem like that, probably I’m not saying it well, but really he’s the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet. He’d give you the shirt off his back. I can’t figure out why some woman hasn’t snatched him up; he’s real good looking, too. I guess he’s too fleet-footed,” Ray shrugged with a smile.

“I guess,” Lalique nodded and gritted her teeth. She hated the guy already.
Ray looked out the window,

“Oh, there he is.”

Lalique didn't want to crane her neck too much but couldn't help herself. She saw a man dressed casually in the kind of understated, well made clothing that announced "class". He was getting out of his car and then reaching back in for a large manila envelope. She ducked back as he turned and headed to the restaurant.

"Perry!" Ray stood to give him a quick knuckle bump and a grin, "Hey my man--what it is?"

Without waiting for an answer he motioned Perry into the booth, right alongside Lalique. He handed the envelope to Ray and they sat down.

During the introductions Perry turned to Lalique and looked straight into her eyes. It hit her like a bolt out of the blue.

"Nice to meet you, Lalique; I've been hearing good things about you for a while now secondhand from Ray and supplied by Arlene," he smiled.

Devastating. His smile was devastating. Thick brown hair with red glints in it waved away from his face, which was angular and clean shaven, with a very slight cleft in his chin. He had green eyes the color of sea glass and they made electric pulses flash across her belly when they looked into hers. The wire-rimmed glasses he wore didn't seem to stop their power at all. The balmy scent of Acqua di Parma whispered to her of money and seduction. Mommy!

"Thank you," she replied, relieved that she could actually form words since her throat had closed up while he was speaking, "And I've been hearing good things about you, too, but only for the last twenty minutes or so.

"Oh, no!" he laughed, "Twenty minutes of me; that probably was something you could have lived without. Ray should be my publicist."

He seemed genuine but Lalique was loathe to give up her earlier conviction that he had to be a pompous ass if he was as perfect as Ray claimed. Besides, his effect on her mind and body made her extremely uncomfortable and that translated to resentment on her part.

He claimed he'd already eaten, too, but could stay for a bit to talk.

"Ray said you're practically a sous chef," she ventured.

“Yes, well, working in the kitchen relaxes me and I love good food,” he nodded, “I wouldn’t say I’m a gourmet or a chef, but I am a bit of a foodie. Are you?”

"I like to eat and eat well, if that's what you mean. Mine is mostly comfort food, though."

"She's a wonderful cook," Arlene put in, "She's been teaching me to know my way around a kitchen."

“I actually came here tonight to know more about Ray,” Lalique changed the subject, “Since I feel somewhat responsible for Arlene, she’s not only my children’s nanny, but my friend.”

“She’s checking me out,” Ray said, unashamed, “I don’t mind at all.”

“He cleans up good,” Perry grinned briefly at Ray, “I’ll say that for him. And he should get points for healthy living. Doesn’t smoke, only drinks socially and as far as I know his cholesterol’s in good shape.”

“I guess it seems old-fashioned of me to be vetting him,” Lalique said stiffly. Really she couldn’t think why she was so awkward in this conversation. She sounded like a self-righteous prig.

“Not at all,” Perry objected, “That only shows you’re someone who cares about the welfare of the people she loves. I would say that’s commendable.”

“I’m so glad it meets with your approval.” 

There was something about him that seemed to raise her hackles. She waited for him to come back with some withering remark and when he didn’t she was perplexed and disappointed. She wanted to be able to dislike him; she needed a reason and so far she didn’t have one.

Meanwhile, Ray and Arlene got up to dance. Their obvious regard and affection for each other only made the animosity between Lalique and Perry more obvious. Or at least Lalique’s animosity; Perry seemed perfectly relaxed and friendly. She noticed that not only was Arlene crazy in love with her blonde boy, but it was now evident he felt the same way. Ray didn’t seem to be fighting her any more.

“Looks like they’ve worked out any kinks in their relationship without help from us,” Perry observed.

“Yes, well, I still don’t know much about him,” Lalique countered, “Arlene is a very well brought up but naïve girl.”

“Yes, she’s kind of a breath of fresh air to him I believe. He’s had to be around some tough people and places in his  life.”

“What does that mean? Is he…involved in criminal activity or something?”

Perry smiled,

“I suppose he would worry you that way, since you don’t really know him and appearances are deceiving, but I can say in all honesty he is not in trouble with the law. He has just had a rough life. Looks to me like it could be on the upswing and I hope it continues. I think Arlene is part of the reason.”

"But why won't he let her see where he lives? He's not married is he?"

"No! He's single, I can assure you. It's not really safe for her there, though.  It's a little house, but he needed the small yard to work on cars. However; it's in a very bad part of town. If she just wants to see it he'd probably drive by there with her to show her, but he doesn't want her to be subjected to the place and the people there. He won't be there too much longer, he really does have a future away from that place," Perry looked sort of passionate about this suddenly, "He's a good kid, really. Just trying to get his act together. Especially since he met Arlene."

Lalique relaxed for a moment,

“I’m so glad to hear you say that. My impression so far has been along those lines, but still it’s reassuring. Arlene would like to have him to the house but I had to make sure; I have four children.”

“You have four children? I'm sorry, somehow you don't look like you could have four children. You don’t look old enough.”

“Ha ha. I’m afraid I’m plenty old enough. Anyway, they are two sets of twins so I economized on time. And it's all come about in a very short period to say the least.”

“So I guess you're divorced? Or?”

“I’m ‘or’. I’m not married, and I’m on my own. That's the way I want it.” 

Of course that wasn't really the way she had originally wanted it; she's just had to accept it.

“I’ll bet you’re very independent. But it seems you know lots more about me than I do about you. You never said what you do for fun during the day.”

“Right now I run after my children but before I became a mother I was a high school teacher. English and music.” 

Arlene and Ray had become aware of the time and were making with the goodbye murmurings and kisses. Perry and Lalique ignored them.

“Ah, you’re a music lover, and do you play or sing?”

“I play piano and I used to dance. I understand you play guitar?”

“Some say I do. Anyway, I get a kick out of it.”

Lalique nodded, thinking over the last bit of conversation.

“Well, it’s been great talking with you, but I should hit the road,” Perry said, getting to his feet.

Lalique looked at her watch and then back at him. She’d actually been enjoying the conversation.

“We need to be on our way, too," she stood up, sliding out of the booth to stand across from him.

“I was wondering," he pulled at his lower lip, "Do you ever go to the concerts in Crystal Creek? I can usually get tickets…”

“Oh. Well, not in a long time, but I’m afraid that’s impossible right now anyway,” she suddenly had gone cold on him, “Arlene, are you ready to go? I’m sure Mom and Dad are tired by now and want to get home.”

She turned back to Perry,

“It was very nice to meet you,” and then, since Arlene had actually let go of him, Lalique reached out to grab Ray’s hand, “And I certainly am happy to get to know you at last, Ray. We’ll have you to dinner soon; Arlene is dying for you to taste her newest dessert.”

Perry accepted her rebuff with good grace and stood with Ray as the valet brought Lalique’s car and the ladies got in and drove off.

Then, his eyes still looking in that direction, he nudged Ray,

"One hundred bucks says I see the pretty lady again within a week." 

Ray shrugged,

"She's a feisty one so it ain't happening without my help, bro. Anyway, I'm only a starving mechanic; make it twenty and you're on."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lalique Flynn Ch. 6 The New Place

Just before the move to the new house Lalique's pregnancy had begun showing and she'd been very nervous about it. She hardly went out of the house, having Arlene do the shopping and anything else that required being on public view like getting the mail and the paper, or taking the kids outside to play. On the day that they actually moved to the new house and her two brothers-in-law, Gareth and Mark, came over to help she knew that she'd have to inform Errol and Olivia and Yvette. The hardest part had been admitting she'd let herself become involved with a married man. Yvette was married to a much older man herself and wasn't too surprised at the age difference. Her parents, however, while not as upset about the marital affair aspect--after all they'd been a part of Hollywood for many years--were quite startled to learn that the man in question was their long time neighbor and friend, John Lassiter. Shame flared in Lalique's cheeks but she forced herself to hold her head high.

"Please understand we're not trying to criticize you, dear," Olivia assured her, "It's just quite a shock, John's nearly our age and we are friends and neighbors of the Lassiters; I'm very fond of Melora. But you know you always have the support of your father and I. We will love the baby just as we love Alain and Desiree and Scarlett and Simone."

When the day came that she went into labor, Lalique found out that she had not only one baby courtesy of John, but two. After all, he'd sired one set of twins when Trey and Lori had been born, perhaps Lalique should have been prepared for the possibility, but she was not. They were fraternal twins, like Adrien and Desiree, one boy and one girl, and both healthy and strong. She promptly named them Bretton Gerard and Noelle Ondine. The only one who did not know of the babies' existence by now was their father. But that, of course, was a status that was changing, although she did not know it.

For the last couple months Lalique had been able to keep her mind off John and on moving, but as she held her newborn babies she couldn't put off thinking of him any longer and found herself wondering what he would have thought about them if he knew. Her days, more than ever, were filled with mothering her children, all four of them, but at night...well, at night she still dreamed of John. She thought she had accepted the circumstances. That she would always be connected with him because he was the father of two of her children, she knew, but it was harder to keep it in perspective than she'd thought it would be. Harder to remember he had to be just "someone that she used to love". She'd done everything in her power to keep him from knowing about the babies, but at times she wanted so very much to tell him; to have him be a part of their life. To be honest, way down deep she still wanted him to be a part of her own life as well. The decision had been made to leave all that behind and she had no plans to change it; but the longing was there all the same. She was sure she would never stop loving John; never care for anyone else; she considered him the love of her life. Her children would be all she needed for the rest of her life. They were worth everything. She was through with love. It was too miserably painful anyway. 

I ought to be used to being alone by now, I've always been on my own. At least I know now that it was possible for me to love someone, I used to wonder if I could. I just chose the wrong person. How very me.

The house Lalique had moved to was secluded and looked out over the bay. She still couldn't believe she'd been able to afford to rent such a lovely place. Even though the house was immense with spacious rooms, there would be no separate playroom for the kids; however, the nursery was large enough to keep a big space for a play area.

The backyard was not enormous, but it was larger than the one in her house in Pleasantview and she put in swings and a merry go round as well as the little ponies that Adrien and Desiree played on. Another plus was the detached garage which offered storage for, not only the van, but out of season gear and the few tools Lalique had gathered together when she moved to her first house.

There was a large foyer that ran the center of the house from front to back and included the stairs to the second floor. After Lalique had her walk-through with the agent the house had been completely repainted on the inside by the real estate company, who was the actual owner of the house. She'd been a little leery since they did not consult with her on the colors, however; she was gratified that the foyer, dining room and kitchen were all painted in one of her favorite shades, French blue. They'd been a nondescript beige before. An immense dining room was on the left as you entered the foyer. It was quite formal, but they would make it work somehow. Once a couple of high chairs were in place it would not appear quite so grand. And the kitchen was dear to Lalique's heart, being almost twice the size of her old one. Plenty of room for both Arlene and her to work in there at the same time. Slowly but surely Arlene was learning to cook something besides mac and cheese.

The living room was in Lalique's very favorite color, green. Really, it was amazing; as if it had been decorated with her sensibilities in mind. There was even a grand piano! So far they'd been so busy with the children, and thee was so much room upstairs for TV watching and relaxing that they'd scarcely used the living room.

The guest bathroom opened off the living room and was in earth tones with sumptuous fixtures.

Behind the kitchen was a room already decorated as a dance studio/exercise gym. Truly Lalique felt it was as if she had been in on the design when the house was build. Mind-boggling. Lalique planned on giving Alain and Desiree some very simple dance lessons soon and this would be wonderful.

Upstairs on one side of the hall was the nursery and Arlene's  room. Again she would be sharing the bathroom with Alain and Desiree just as in Pleasantview. This one was rather kid-friendly in design, but Arlene had no problem with that. Her bedroom was even painted in a similar color to her old one.

The master bedroom was generous and had a large alcove, evidently meant for a boudoir/dressing area of sorts. Lalique had planned to keep the new baby there but when two babies arrived she had to quickly shoehorn in a second crib. But the alcove had a door that opened to a deck with only a wrought iron fence around it. Lalique locked that and had a deadbolt put in, too. No little toddlers were going through that door. In fact, she ended up nailing it shut and too bad for her landlord. She would go without a deck for now. If she was still here when the children were older, well, maybe they'd eventually use it again.

The master bath was nicely equipped and somewhat masculine looking, but Lalique had shrugged at the sight of it during the walk-through. It had everything she needed, masculine or not, and once her lotions and potions were spread around it would suit her nicely.

The piece de resistance was the indoor pool and spa. They would have the option of swimming year round and the jazuzzi was a bonus--she'd never had one before.

Lalique thought the back deck was charming and planned to entertain out there often. In fact, as soon as she caught her breath she hoped to have the family over for a cookout.

The first night Arlene and Lalique were exhausted, but neither could sleep; too much excitement. Arlene had heard from Ray and so she was daydreaming about making a coconut cake for him. She hoped Lalique soon got the report on him so she could invite him over to the house and she could show him how domestic she was.

Lalique, herself, was wondering why John hadn't called her with information on Mr. Ray Nolan. She hoped the delay didn't mean bad news. She would not call John though. This was a "business transaction" to her way of thinking and she did not want things to become personal again. Mainly because she was afraid she'd slip and he'd find out about little Brett and Noelle. They were such sweet babies; just like Alain and Desiree. She thought they would also have black hair but could only wait to see.

Then Ray called and asked Arlene if she AND Lalique would meet him for dinner at the Eden House Restaurant downtown. Then Lalique could at least get a first impression. It was a quiet place in a good part of town so she decided it would be all right.

John still had not called with any information, Lalique didn't know if that was peculiar or not; she had no idea how long these kind of investigations took. However; perhaps no news was good news. Surely if he'd found out something terrible he would have called her right away. Arlene, of course, was over the moon. Lalique had to admit she was very curious. Was this man basically decent the way Arlene said he was? Cynical by nature, Lalique decided if he was a fraud she'd spot it immediately. And it wasn't like they were having him to the house. Yet.